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So, You’re Leading a Remote Team During a Crisis. Ask Yourself These Four Questions

May 28, 2020

Leading a team is never easy, and becoming a leader under sudden remote circumstances is its own beast. 

You likely did not have time to receive training, learn best practices, or take any time at all to reflect on how your approach should be adapted for a virtual workplace. If that’s the case, and you’re not sure how to get a pulse on your team during these crazy times, we have four questions that you should ask yourself.

  1. Is work getting completed on time? Your natural first instinct during this time may be to micromanage, and that’s normal – but it’s not effective. During times of uncertainty or a loss of control over the familiar, people naturally tend to overcorrect with the things that are still in their control. But all this does is move your stress around, and micromanaging passes that loss of control onto your team. Instead of tightening the reins and checking in multiple times a day about due dates and progress, take a step back. Is work getting completed on time? If so, then your team is proving that they don’t need your virtual shadow hovering over them in order to stay motivated.   

  2. Have I checked in with all the people that I normally would? It’s tough to be a leader when you can’t see your team. It’s a lot easier to monitor progress and nip issues in the bud when you have close physical proximity and consistent casual contact throughout the day. In the absence of these comforts, try to outline who you would normally communicate with throughout a typical day and recreate those pulse meetings as best you can from an online standpoint. Don’t just clam up and maintain communication with those who proactively reach out  your less vocal teammates will feel left out.   

  3. Have I told my team my thoughts lately? Everyone is looking for strong leadership right now. You might not feel particularly sure of the future, but your job as a leader is to be there for your team. This doesn’t mean you need to put on false bravado or make empty promises  even simply sharing your own acknowledgement of uncertain times can be really comforting to your coworkers. Strong leadership can mean that you share your own vulnerability in an effort to promote team cohesiveness and togetherness.   

  4. Am I getting what I need? Ok, so you’ve adjusted your needs for your team, you’ve made sure work is getting done, you’ve done everything a good leader should do during a time of major change  so, how are you doing? Are you feeling uncertain about your own path or unclear on metrics? Think of your leadership abilities as a bank: you can’t keep making withdrawals without depositing something back in. Make sure you are reaching out to your leader or mentor and recharging and getting guidance as needed. 

Being a good leader is tough, being a good leader during a crisis is even harder. Reflect on your days with a quick check-in and you’ll be more apt to stay on target  and stay sane. 

Managing Remote Workers

Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. is a Project Consultant at PSI based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Her areas of expertise include testing, assessments, and project management. Jaclyn has contributed to the development, validation, and implementation of assessments with various clients. She has managed, analyzed, and presented data analyses for content and criterion validation studies.